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More and more of the wines that I serve at my restaurant barVino are arriving in twist cap format. Pascal Jolivet’s Attitude Sauvignon Blanc seems to switch each vintage, arriving one year in the more traditional cork format and the next showing up in my wine cooler with a twist cap. Recently, the Milbrandt Merlot switched it up. As did the Ca’Donini line.

So what’s the deal? Aesthetically and historically, we – that is, drinkers of wine – tend to associate twist or screw caps with less expensive bottles (i.e., cheap plonk). But that’s no longer the case. I remember the first time I had a screw top bottle years ago in Chicago (actually, I’d like to forget it as my date was the human equivalent of a braying jack-ass).  But I digress. I remember being bit surprised when the server brought over the bottle.  The restaurant was upscale and the bottle price on the mid-tier level and Australian – my date had lived there briefly and was apparently reliving slimmer days via his order. The Australians and Kiwis were the first to feature twist tops prominently, although more wineries are taking this route with whites and lighter reds – ones that aren’t as complex or going to sit in a cellar aging for another fifteen years.

Personally, I like being able to get to my wine faster, so I’m a fan of the twist cap. Of course, it’s a bit anti-climatic to twist open a bottle after presenting it to a table. The ceremony of the wine key is slightly more elegant, I’ll confess.

But there is a way to open a screw cap with a some pizazz and style: Skip to 1:45 to see the impressive way to open a twist cap in this video from St. James Winery. I myself was taught by Russell Hearn of SUHRU Wines in Long Island one night when he dined at barVino with his wife and business partner, Sue (Get it? Sue + Russell + Hearn = SUHRU) and a friend. All of their bottles are twist-cap (including my personal favorite, the Dry Riesling) and now that Russell has shown me the way, I’ve been practicing my moves.

What’s your take on corks versus screw-tops? Any strong opinions? Or are you just concerned with what’s in the bottle, not the method by which you reach the contents?

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  1. How seriously cool! I may need to try that tonight!

    • Anything to get to the wine faster! I still feel a bit goofy doing it at the tables, but I think guests are becoming more used to twist caps so there isn’t that look of “Oh no! I order a cheap/bad bottle” when I come over with a twist off bottle.

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